Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice (Stovetop + Instant Pot)

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Homemade Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice has never been easier than this 20-minute Instant pot recipe. Made with anti-inflammatory turmeric, this fragrant rice recipe makes the perfect side to curries, seafood, chicken, and more!

A black bowl filled with Indian Yellow Rice with a silver spoon on the right side and a plate of shrimp in the back.
Indian Yellow Rice

This Instant Pot yellow rice recipe may look similar to the South Indian Lemon rice recipe, but it is different. For one, this turmeric rice is less tangy and uses onions, and a few warming spices instead of the mustard seeds and curry leaves that the south Indian version calls for.

What is yellow rice

As the name suggests, yellow rice is a yellow-colored rice dish. Traditionally, yellow rice is made by cooking white rice with spices such as saffron or turmeric to give it a yellow hue.

Regional differences in yellow rice

Many different cultures have their variation of yellow rice. It is popular in Spanish, Caribbean, Indian, Indonesian, South African, Moroccan cuisines, and more. Mild, spicy, or sweet each version is unique, flavorful, and enjoyed by all.

Here are just a few variations from some of the cultures mentioned above.

  • Caribbean Yellow Rice– Different variations are made with vegetables like bell peppers, peas, and more.
  • Mexican Yellow Rice (Arroz Amarillo)– Often includes tomato sauce in addition to onions and spices.
  • South African Yellow Rice– Made with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins, making it a uniquely sweet yellow rice.

This version of yellow rice leans on the rich color of turmeric to yield a vibrant and flavorful dish. It’s great for serving alongside curries, seafood, and meat dishes.

Turmeric benefits

Turmeric contains a compound with medicinal properties called curcumin. Studies have found curcumin helps lower inflammation in the body which is associated with many positive health benefits.

The best way to absorb the benefits of turmeric and curcumin is to consume supplements since the powder contains very few levels of curcumin. These supplements are often coupled with black pepper to help your body absorb turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits.

Turmeric helps fight low levels of chronic inflammation associated with heart disease, cancer, and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Looking for more ways to include turmeric in your diet? Try this golden turmeric milk (haldiwala doodh).

An instant pot with yellow rice, topped with fresh cilantro.
Instant Pot Yellow Turmeric Rice

Reasons to love this recipe

  • Quick and easy – it takes less than 20 minutes!
  • A delicious twist to plain old white rice.
  • Almost hands-free – With just a little sautéing at the beginning and an Instant Pot finish at the end, this recipe practically cooks itself.
  • Great for picky eaters – So aromatic that even picky eaters will devour it.

Here’s what you need to make the recipe

Ingredient notes/swaps

  • Basmati rice – Though I prefer using the fragrant Basmati rice, any long grain white rice or brown rice, sona masoori rice, and jasmine rice will also work. Note: Instant Pot cooking times will vary depending on the rice used.
  • Ghee or butter – You can replace the ghee with avocado or olive oil to make this a vegan recipe.
  • Chopped onions and garlic
  • Turmeric powder – Gives the rice a vibrant yellow color and savory flavor.
  • Spices – A blend of cumin seeds, bay leaf, and cinnamon adds a deeper flavor to the rice.
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime juice and cilantro to finish it off.
A silver spoon with yellow turmeric rice over the instant pot filled with turmeric rice.
Instant Pot Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice

Tools

Here’s what you need to make this recipe 


TIPS

  • Make sure to rinse the rice at least 2-3 times to remove dirt and starch. This will prevent the rice from sticking.
  • If using Basmati rice, soak the rice for 30 minutes for best results.
  • Replace ghee with avocado or olive oil for a vegan version.
  • Fluff the rice once it is cooked to prevent it from sticking to each other.
  • If not serving immediately, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot to prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom.

Recipe Substitutions

  • Swap out the water with chicken or vegetable broth for a stronger flavor.
  • Don’t have ghee at home? Use butter as a replacement.
  • Vegan substitution– Use avocado or olive oil in place of the ghee.

Variations to try

The great thing about this yellow Basmati rice recipe is the ability to customize. Here are a few ways we like to vary this yellow turmeric rice recipe.

  • Spice it up – Green cardamom and star anise add a wonderful flavor.
  • Add veggies to this mix, such as peas, carrots, bell peppers, etc.
  • Go nuts – Try adding cashews and raisins to the mix- sauté in ghee and spices if you decide to add these in.
  • Make it spicy – chop 1-2 Thai green chilies and throw them in along with the onions.
  • Coconut yellow rice – Add about 1/4 cup coconut milk and water for a unique twist.
  • Saffron rice – Soak 6-7 strands of saffron in lukewarm water for 10 minutes. Add the saffron water and strands along with the rice and mix well. Cook the rice as usual.
  • Use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water to make flavorful turmeric rice.

How to prep ahead

There are a few ways you can prep for this turmeric yellow rice

  • Dice the onion in advance – You can chop and store fresh onion for up to 7 days, making prep quick and easy when you are ready to cook.
  • Make garlic paste ahead of time – Fresh garlic paste will keep up to 7 days in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
  • Make turmeric rice during your weekly meal prep to cut 20 minutes and extra dishes from your weeknight dinner routine.

Storage Tips

Once cooked, this fragrant Instant pot turmeric rice keeps in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

For longer storage, this Instant pot rice recipe keeps in an air-tight, freezer-safe container for up to a month.

Reheating leftover rice 

Instant Pot: Add a tablespoon of water to every cup of leftover rice. Mix well and pressure cook for zero minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, move the valve to ‘venting’ to release pressure immediately.

Microwave: Alternatively, you can microwave the rice for a minute until it is heated. Make sure to drizzle a tablespoon of water evenly, so it doesn’t dry out.

A black bowl of Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice with silver spoon on the right side of the bowl and a black plate of shrimp in the top right corner.
Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice

Serve it with

This vibrant yellow rice pairs well with just about anything – roasted vegetables, curries, dals, seafood, chicken, and more. Here are just a few main dishes I like to serve this Indian turmeric rice with:

Pink circle with light bulb

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to rinse the rice before cooking it in the Instant Pot?

I would recommend rinsing the rice before cooking it in the Instant Pot. It helps remove extra starch from the grains, so they don’t stick together as much when they cook.

Are yellow rice and saffron rice the same thing?

Similar but not the same. Some yellow rice recipes use saffron to add a yellow color to the rice but could also use ingredients like turmeric or annatto. Saffron rice only uses saffron to tint and flavor the rice.

Can I make yellow rice in a rice cooker?

You can make the rice in the cooker, but you’ll have to saute the spices and onions in a pan separately and then mix them.

Want more rice options? Try these recipes

Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice Recipe

A black bowl filled with Indian Yellow Rice with a silver spoon on the right side and a plate of shrimp in the back.

Indian Yellow Turmeric Rice (stovetop + Instant Pot recipe)

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This yellow turmeric rice recipe comes together in just 20 minutes with the Instant Pot for a vibrant side dish that pairs with curries, seafood, chicken, and more!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Pressure Building Time + Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 6
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Main Course
Method: Instant Pot
Cuisine : Fusion

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste, or 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt, or as needed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

Wash and soak the rice

  • Rinse the Basmati rice using a strainer till the water runs clear.
  • Soak the rice in twice the amount of water for 30 minutes. You can skip this step if you are in a rush.
  • Drain the rice and set it aside.

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Select the Saute program in the Instant Pot and set it to Normal.
  • Add two tablespoons of ghee to the inner steel pot. Once the ghee heats up, add cumin seeds.
  • When they start to sizzle, add bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
  • Fry them for 10-15 seconds and then add onions and garlic paste.
  • Fry until the onions are translucent. Add salt and turmeric and mix well.
  • Add the rinsed rice. Saute the rice for about 30 seconds. Press cancel.
  • Add water to the inner pot. Mix well.
  • Close the lid and set the steam valve to sealing.
  • Pressure cook for 3 minutes under high pressure.
  • When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 10 minutes before moving the valve to 'venting' to release pressure.
  • Open the lid and let the steam escape.
  • Cover the Instant Pot and let the rice rest undisturbed for 5 minutes – this allows the steam coming out of the rice to redistribute which in turn cooks all the layers of the rice evenly.
  • After 5 minutes, add ghee, lime juice and cilantro. Fluff the rice gently with a fork.
  • Discard the spices before serving. Enjoy with a side of roasted veggies or protein of your choice.

Stovetop instructions

  • Place a dutch oven or a saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of ghee.
  • Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds.
  • When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick.
  • Fry them for 10-15 seconds, and then add onions and garlic paste.
  • Fry until the onions are translucent. Add salt and turmeric and mix well.
  • Add the rinsed rice. Saute the rice for about 30 seconds.
  • Add water along with salt to the wok. Mix well.
  • In approximately 6-8 minutes, the water will start to boil and evaporate from the surface. When craters appear, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, turn down the heat to the lowest setting, cook for another 5 minutes, and turn off the heat. 
  • Open the lid and let the steam escape.
  • Cover the saucepan and let the rice rest undisturbed for 5 minutes – this allows the steam coming out of the rice to redistribute which in turn cooks all the layers of the rice evenly.
  • After 5 minutes, add ghee, lime juice, and cilantro. Fluff the rice gently with a fork.
  • Discard the spices before serving. Enjoy with a side of roasted veggies or protein of your choice.

Notes

  • If not serving immediately, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot to prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
  • Reheating leftover rice – Add a tablespoon of water for every cup of leftover rice. Mix well and pressure cook for zero minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, move the valve to ‘venting’ to release pressure immediately.
  • To amp up the lime flavor, add grated lemon zest. 
Variations
  1. Use olive oil or avocado oil instead of ghee to make it vegan.

Pantry EssentialsGetting the right tools for your kitchen makes cooking more enjoyable and less frustrating. Here’s a list of kitchen essentials I own and recommend.

Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 312kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 593mgPotassium: 160mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 106IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

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